design:retail - July 2016 - (Page 34)

shopping with paco 034 Buying on the Move PACO UNDERHILL CEO & FOUNDER ENVIROSELL A IRPORTS ORIGINALLY WERE conceived as a variation on the passenger liner terminal. They were glamorous. The old TWA terminal at JFK, if anyone remembers, won many architectural awards, as did Dulles in Washington, D.C. But, as the cost of air travel declined in the 1990s, and a broad cross-section of the world was introduced to the airport, the terminal-once a dramatic, not unpleasant place-was reduced to bus-station levels of madness. In 2016, there is no question that commercial air travel in the United States is broken. The new Asian airports in Shanghai and Seoul make Newark, JFK and O'Hare look like dirty, third-world junk heaps. Add other American transportation hubs like train and bus stations, with a few exceptions (San Francisco's BART is the only one that comes to mind), and our travel experience is miserable. Thanks to 9/11, our airports resemble Cold War Berlin, with a wall dividing plane-side from land-side, complete with Checkpoint Charlies and unsmiling TSA Stasi-like agents. Given the arbitrary nature of the process, we never know how long it is going to take. In major tourist destinations, we are subjected to the inexperienced traveler who pushes our patience to the limit. Add capricious weather to the mix and you have a poisonous cocktail. All of us road warriors have our stories. With so many of us trapped inside airports with hours to kill, is it any surprise that someone thought retail was the answer? Airport operators are caught in a dilemma. Is the airport retail for the entertainment and pleasure of the traveler, or is it another source of income for the quasi-public entities that run those facilities? Ever resent paying $3.50 for that small bottle of purified water that might cost less than half that JULY 2016 DESIGNRETAILONLINE.COM much in the convenience store on the highway? At Heathrow and Gatwick in London, there are signs that promote airport retailing with "High Street" pricing; thus trying to combat the clear perception that in shopping at the airport you are paying a premium. I did note that a bottle of my favorite single-malt Scotch was cheaper at my liquor store of preference on the Jersey side of the Holland Tunnel than it was at the Duty Free at Heathrow. Retail in airports has some built-in problems. First, the basic body bubble is stretched with rolling luggage and backpacks. Store operators know they can only fit two-thirds of the number of people comfortably compared with the same size stores at the local shopping mall. Most shoppers are carrying or pulling something that makes the interaction with merchandise clumsier and the transaction process slower. In general, most airports suffer when retrofitted with retail, because the basic design of terminals constructed throughout the 20th century GLOBALSHOP.ORG was about managing airplanes relative to square footage and construction costs, rather than the functionality of retail. You see the difference in the 21st-century airports like Terminal 5 at Heathrow, or better yet in Dubai, where retail was a central function in their planning. At the airport, you can only sell what people can carry; that is why watches and jewelry stores work. I've wondered when someone is going to figure out that the airport might be the perfect place to reinvent that old 20th-century entity: the catalog showroom. Look, see and touch, and get it delivered at home. In Brazil, just such an entity is being planned for the new terminal in Brasilia, the capital city. Brazil is one the places where airport retail is being privatized and reinvented. It isn't just about airports. Retail today is about going where customers are, not just about waiting for them to come to you. In the Tokyo Metro system, you can buy flowers, fashion, fancy cakes and confections. Metro retail is designed for speed. Better yet, you can use your Metro Card to swipe and pay for small purchases on the run. The retail rents are a subsidy for transit costs. It made me think about my New York subway system, where riders are screaming about fare increases, but underground retail purchases are limited to candy, magazines and soft-core porn. Transportation and retail are natural partners. We need to better examine how our airports, train and bus stations are failing. We need to understand the changing nature of travel, re-examine this journey and fix its many headaches. Retail is part of the answer. PACO UNDERHILL IS THE FOUNDER OF ENVIROSELL AND AUTHOR OF THE BOOKS "WHY WE BUY" AND "WHAT WOMEN WANT." HE SHARES HIS RETAIL AND CONSUMER INSIGHTS WITH DESIGN:RETAIL IN THIS BI-ISSUE COLUMN. Photo by FBERTI/ISTOCK/THINKSTOCK http://www.DESIGNRETAILONLINE.COM http://www.GLOBALSHOP.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of design:retail - July 2016

design:retail - July 2016
Editor’s Note
On Trend
We Love This!
Designer Picks
Clicks & Mortar
How'd They Do That?
Have You Heard?
Shopper Insights
Shopping with Paco
Kum & Go
Intersport Klöpping
Nino Álvarez
Fixture Leaders

design:retail - July 2016